Counseling Today, From the President

From the President: What is your mission?

Heather Trepal July 1, 2019

Heather Trepal, the 68th president of the American Counseling Association

Greetings! Although it is July, we are kicking off a new fiscal year at the American Counseling Association and transitioning leadership roles. I am excited to begin my term as president. I want to extend my appreciation to immediate past President Simone Lambert and acknowledge all of her contributions to our association this past year. I also want to thank past President Gerard Lawson for his service as his term on the board comes to an end. In addition, ACA CEO Richard Yep and all of our staff have been instrumental as we have carried the association’s work forward. Finally, I would like to welcome President-elect Sue Pressman as she transitions into her new role. I look forward to working with her closely this upcoming year.

Each ACA president has the opportunity to “carry the baton” for a year. This means that we are charged with leading the work of the association during the time we are in office. We also have the opportunity to build upon the great work of our association and carry that forward. As those reading this may be aware, the ACA Governing Council passed a strategic plan in 2018. According to that plan, ACA’s strategic drivers are advocacy, practice support, and relevance. These are the core concepts that direct the work we do.

In addition to the ongoing work being carried out by volunteer leadership on our many ACA committees, this year four task forces will put a spotlight on the following topics: 1) professional advocacy training, 2) the concerns of new counseling professionals and those who are early in their careers, 3) sexual violence practice support and 4) counseling research and knowledge. I hope ACA members will engage with these groups as we continue to work on behalf of the profession. I would also ask ACA’s divisions and regions, as well as our partnering organizations in the counseling profession, to reinforce diversity as a core value of their mentoring and leadership development opportunities.

In working toward our strategic goals and priorities, this year we will place special focus on professional advocacy. Counseling is a mission-based profession. All counselors enter the profession because they feel called to serve or to make a difference in the lives of their clients or students. However, I would like to challenge you to think about your mission for our profession. How do you intend to work to best develop, promote and advance the counseling profession?

Advocacy for our profession is sorely needed. When we talk about advocacy, the first thing that comes to mind for some is legislative advocacy, or counselors communicating with their elected officials on behalf of issues that impact our profession. In fact, later this month, ACA’s Institute for Leadership Training (ILT) will bring approximately 150 professional counselors to Alexandria, Virginia, to participate in three days of targeted advocacy training and to receive information on counselor hiring from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. ILT will culminate in a counselor Day on the Hill, during which attendees will meet with their elected representatives and their staffs about concerns relevant to professional counselors.

Other forms of professional advocacy don’t have to be as time intensive. They can be as simple as educating the public about professional counseling across all work settings, working to decrease stigma around seeking counseling services, committing to use the word counselor, or correcting misinformation about professional counseling displayed in the media. The profession needs you, so I hope that you will consider your mission for the profession starting now.

This upcoming year, I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as ACA’s 68th president. I look forward to working with you on behalf of our association and our profession.



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